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Stamford Town Center - New Chains Open

For those of you following the build-out of the new Stamford Town Center, several of the chain restaurants opened today...

P.F. Chang's China Bistro - www.pfchangs.com
Cosi - www.getcosi.com
Kona Grill - www.konagrill.com
California Pizza Kitchen - www.cpk.com

Mitchell's Fish Market opens in December.

Famous Dave's BBQ bailed out, so there is a 5800sq ft restaurant space still available for lease.

If you need a reason to visit, the massive new Barnes & Noble is open now too

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  1. Welcome the American heartland. Except for Kona Grill, I have the other five of them within 10 miles of me in Michigan.

    5 Replies
    1. re: brendastarlet

      I will be interested to see how the area reacts to these restaurants. There are a tremendous number of restaurants in the area and the only other chain in Stamford is a Bennigans.

      PF Changs carries some amount of snob appeal, but the other restaurants don't seem to stand out from the crowd...

      1. re: Zobot

        And Cosi has already proven its mediocrity at its other Stamford location on High Ridge. These spots will be no doubt appealing when you've shopped for hours, get hungry, and are looking for a convenient place to land, but it's hard to imagine anyone making a special trip to the mall just for chain pizza, Chinese or sushi when you can get decent home grown versions all over town.

        1. re: MommaJ

          I agree with you that these chains are mediocre. But atleast it is not Mickey D.s! I would rather go to a local place for a piece of pizza but I think that Cosi is perfectly adequate for a quick meal. The food is consistently mediocre. But I would take a Cosi breakfast sandwich or salad over the same at Mickey D. s any time.

          1. re: MommaJ

            Yeah, but the Cosi on High Ridge has free wireless, which - in Stamford (or all of Ffld Cty) - makes up for a multitude of sins.

          2. re: Zobot

            Morton's is a chain. So is IHOP. They seem to do OK on their respective levels, I do not see why some of these new places won't do well either.

        2. We went to Chang's on Sunday. The food was all tasteless and overpriced. We had Crab Wonton app ($7), Chang's Chicken entree ($13) and Sweet/Sour Chicken entree ($12). The dining room is nice and service is good. This was our first and last visit to Chang's. As far as "snob appeal" (Zobot), I don't get it. That's like saying going to Pizza Hut carries some amount of snob appeal.

          2 Replies
          1. re: Martypb7

            My very first experience with PF Chang's in White Plains (that long ago, since I paid for parking) was finding a hair in my meal. They gave me a free dessert. Haven't been back since and wouldn't ever go again.

            Cosi -- too expensive for what it is.

            Not interested in the other two.

            Build out of the mall, though? That sounds interesting. Might be worth a visit.

            1. re: Martypb7

              Ha! :) I think we can safely say that PF Chang's caters to a slightly more upscale demographic than Pizza Hut.

              I think it's hard to give a restaurant a death sentence after one visit, especially when they've only been open a week...everyone from the hosts, to the waitstaff, to the cooks are still learning the ropes...

              I haven't been to a Chang's in several years, but I'm sure we'll end up trying the Stamford location. (After all, we'll try most any restaurant in town once).

            2. CPK was nothing special either. It was just okay, as I expected. We had two different pies. One was the vegetarian and the other was the chipotle chicken. The vegetarian was bland and had almost no cheese on it. The chipotle chicken one had a nice kick, but I didn't like the thick, green, creamy sauce on top of it. Not enough cheese either. Hard to find anything better than Colony. The service definitely needs work, but that's to be expected with any new restaurant.

              1. As far as I'm concerned, the fact that a Fairfield county mall has chains like that is one of the 7 signs of the apocalypse.

                5 Replies
                1. re: ChefBoyAreMe

                  They confined in a mall, where I think chains make sense. That's fine. Now, if they start to pop up more on Altantic street and Summer street, then it gets worrisome. but most independent places, by my unscientific assumption, wouldn't want to be in a mall setting anyhow.

                  If you are stuck in the Stamford mall without an option to leave (pity you), then at least the eating options are better than what was before. We've moved from the worst of the fast food to the mediocre of pseudo ethnic chains.

                  But no doubt, going out side and walking down the ramp leads to much, much better eating options around the corner.

                  1. re: adamclyde

                    We drove by the new mall expansion on our way to Market Restaurant on saturday night. All of the chain restaurants are outside in a horseshoe shape with a driveway and valet parking in the middle. They all looked like enormous spaces and it was a bit scary! The "7 signs of the apocalypse" comment hit the nail on the head!!

                    1. re: kbfood

                      It may be a large space, but it's a whole lot better than the blight that was there before...

                    2. re: adamclyde

                      I totally agree. I wouldn't ordinarily go to a mall just to eat lunch, but when I have been to this mall in the past, there has been nothing whatsoever to eat. Now at least there will be someplace to go if you have shopping to do and don't want to leave the mall for lunch. I'm not big on chains, but chain stores are generally the only ones who can afford mall space. And this seems a vast improvement over previous options.

                    3. re: ChefBoyAreMe

                      I'm not sure why chains like that are worse than anything else you'd find in a food court in any Fairfield County mall. Is California Pizza Kitchen all that different quality-wise than Sbarro's?

                      Personally, I've liked the P.F. Chang's in White Plains, although I haven't been there in a while. I liked the orange peel chicken and the black bean chicken. The meat is less gristly and the food is less greasy than that which I've had at the random local Chinese take-out places.

                    4. The Beginning of The End!
                      The reason I love living in Stamford is that I can get great non-chain food! It forced me to broaden my horizons when I moved here. Hit those places up when Christmas shopping if you must. But, you'd be better off parking in the mall for 50 cents and walking to any number of fantastic restaurants downtown.

                      1. Those of you who are calling this the "7th sign of the apocalypse" must not work in the area. Sure, there are lots of great restaurants down Atlantic and Summer, but there is a complete dearth of places to get a quick bite near the large office buildings along Washington and Tresser. There isn't a single deli. Just Calabria pizza. I can't often take the time to walk several blocks, sit down at a waitress service restaurant and have a nice meal during my lunch hour. So, I welcome the additions to the mall and I especially applaud the architect for making them pedestrian-friendly. It won't keep me from having a holiday lunch at Mona Lisa or a nice Friday night dinner at Napa. But it will save me from the disgusting slop that is the corporate cafeteria!

                        6 Replies
                        1. re: lisette

                          I used to work in that exact same area and agree... calabria isn't much of an option. But thankfully I was on Washington itself, so a little closer to West Stamford, so Casa Villa or the Caribbean Market were a 5 minute walk and Scotty's, Top of the Hill and others were all within a 2 minute drive.

                          1. re: adamclyde

                            AC -- is Casa Villa good? I think the Caribbean Market closed and I'm not familiar with Scotty's or Top of the Hill.

                            1. re: lisette

                              Casa Villa was OK. Better than anything within walking distance and probably the best tacos in Stamford, but, unfortunately, that really doesn't say much at all. At times, the tacos can be great. Othertimes, decidedly mediocre. But they are authentic.

                              The only problem is a car crashed into their front window a few months back. Word was they were going to be back up running in a matter of weeks, but I haven't seen them open yet. Does anyone know?

                              How long ago did the Carribean Market close? I went there just a few months ago. That's a bummer if they did. Their jerk wasn't what it was 5 years ago, but still very good. It's the one on Main, near the midas dealership. Is that the one you are referring to?

                              Scotty's is on Stillwater, just off of Main. Another Jamaican place with some good fried food. If you get it fresh (lunch is a good time) it can be pretty good. And though it's been a while, I've liked their beef patties.

                              Top of the Hill is on Broad just before you get to the hospital - next door to the Dominoes pizza. It's a little jamaican place and probably the best in town right now (that's all relative). Good, hot jerk chicken and pork. Good oxtail. Haven't tried their goat curry, but it looks good. And pretty decent beef patties. Tiny place, no tables any more, I don't think, since they redid their interior. But nice little place and nice people behind the counter.

                              Here are addresses below.

                              But please do let me know if you can confirm the Caribbean Market closed down. Total bummer if so.

                              K & S Top of the Hill
                              114 W Broad St, Stamford, CT 06902

                              Brown's Caribbean Market
                              135 W Main St, Stamford, CT

                              Casa Villa Restaurant
                              182 W Main St, Stamford, CT 06902

                              Scotty's Fish & Chips
                              70 Smith St, Stamford, CT 06902

                            2. re: adamclyde

                              Casa Villa is back after renovation, cleaner and the food is better! I love the Shrimp with lime garlic sauce, the 3 toca special (my favorites are tongue, shrimp, pork) with rice and bean for less than $8, their sandwich are unusual and good!

                              1. re: starferry

                                Casa Villa, I thought it was Italian? rice and beans?

                                1. re: nbermas

                                  Casa Villa, on West Main, is Mexican.

                          2. Went to check out these restaurants after doing some shopping in the mall yesterday evening with the family. Got there around 7:00.

                            Went first to PF Changs ... it was packed, they were taking names and estimating a one hour wait. Took a look at a menu and left.

                            Next, went to Kona ... 45 minutes to an hour wait. Nasty hostess. Again, looked at menu and left.

                            CPK had a table available after a short wait. Our server was young and enthusiastic, but basically untrained. Food was ok. Had a pizza that was fairly tasty (the Milan, I think). One kid had the miso salad with shrimp, and he liked it. Our other kid had a pasta dish that was pretty bad ... undercooked noodles, bad artificial flavor, although he liked the grilled chicken. With a beer, a glass of wine and a smoothy it came to $80 including tip.

                            I will say this: these places obviously fill a need for a LOT of people. Eating out isn't only about the food, of course. There were tons of kids. The architecture is open and inviting, and kids were playing around the "plaza". Parking is simple and cheap. Food isn't going to offend, and may even seem adventurous for many.

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: cteats

                              Don't ever go to PF Chang's without a reservation. They take them online and over the phone, and it's your only defense against the wait. I have no idea why it is so popular, since none of the food matches up to even the most mediocre Chinese in the city. On the other hand, it's non-threatening Chinese, and you can make a meal out of dumplings and lettuce wraps (order some brown rice and make them into a meal.)

                              I never get pizza at CPK. It's terrible. BUT they do some nice salads, which come in a half size that is perfectly adequate with a starter like the cold shrimp rolls or soup. They also have some interesting disserts.

                              1. re: brendastarlet

                                I agree about CPK...the original barbeque pizza tastes exactly like Lean Cuisine's BBQ Chicken pizza.

                            2. Went to PF Changs for lunch and was not impressed. I understand it is new, but it took an hour and a half for me to get my chicken meal. The apps and drinks came in good order, but the meal took forever.
                              Food was average, I think my expectations were too high for the place.

                              1. Wife and I just had dinner at the newest arrival, Mitchell's Fish Market. Fresh oysters were fine, but...

                                Everything else was terrible from service to fish cooked to mush or scallops to rubber. All at Manhattan prices our tab with 2 drinks was $146.00 for food similar in preparation to Applebe's. No thanks!

                                When I called to inform the manager of my displeasure with the meal, he was not at all interested in my comments. He informed me that as he had not had my meal, he could not comment. Fair enough, but it begs the issue. It came off as misplaced confidence, that nothing could ever be wrong with the food.

                                This is a very expensive place with very poorly prepared food. My advise is to visit the waterfront places in Rohatan and stay very far away from Mitchell's.

                                10 Replies
                                1. re: cassius

                                  My wife and I had dinner there last week and I'd have to say our experience was on the opposite end of the scale.

                                  We had 7:15 reservations (through OpenTable) and were seated by 7:20.

                                  Started with a couple glasses of wine and the calamari appetizer. The calamari was fine (hard for chain calamari to stand out in FFD) and the sauce was outstanding.

                                  Our server was friendly, playful, and attentive.

                                  My wife had a scallop dish prepared in their Shanghai style, which she enjoyed. I sampled a scallop and I didn't find it rubbery at all.

                                  I had grilled tuna with vegetables and mashed potatoes. I found the fish prepared correctly and it tasted as I'd expect.

                                  The prices are definitely high...I suppose Mitchell's is to seafood what Ruth's Chris is to steak.

                                  As for Rowayton, plenty of people have had bad experiences at the waterfront spots, so I'm not sure I'd claim they have superiority over a place like Mitchell's yet.

                                  For what it's worth, if I had an experience like yours and then ran into a manager like the one you described, the restaurant would most certainly end up on my DNR list too.

                                  1. re: cassius

                                    We had an awful lunch at Mitchell's last week. Rubbery fish and chicken and salads gobbed with dressing. Service was poor. Our waitress was clearly new to the service industry, and I doubt she'll make it. We would not return.

                                    1. re: cassius

                                      We had lunch at Mitchell's last week and thought the food was good, but the service was spotty. The server was good at explaining the menu and offering recommendations. I had the special, which was pecan-crusted salmon. It was cooked perfectly and very good. We had a couple of appetizers for the table to start -- all were good. We also ordered a couple of desserts which were delicious, but ridiculously large.

                                      My complaint about the service is that it was very s-l-o-w. Especially for lunch. One person ordered a salad, but rather than bring it with the appetizers, it came out as a separate course.

                                      I had to take a call (never thought I'd be there that long!) and the staff graciously allowed me to sit in an unoccupied room near the bar. When I didn't return in time for my entree, the server offered to re-make it for me and my companions gave her a time. It didn't come out for 20+ minutes after the requested time.

                                      Long and short, food was good, service could work out some kinks. I'd go back.

                                      1. re: lisette

                                        Went to Kona Grill this evening for drinks and apps. The apps were baaaaad. Calamari was greasy and chewy. Potstickers were inedibly salty. Spicy tuna roll was barely edible, the rice was hard - as if it had been out a while, not something you want with sushi! The pizza was ok, but heavy. My friends complained that the martini's and cosmo's were bad. The bottled beer, however, was good.

                                        Our waitress was nice and attentive, but it was pretty slow.

                                        1. re: gunksny

                                          I would be curious to see how Capital Grille does. The area needs a good steakhouse, and I have always been impressed with Capital Grille...at least the ones in Boston and Newton, MA.

                                          1. re: Farefield_Foodie

                                            No way, there ARE good steakhouses. I know Mortons is a chain, but what about Bennett's and Dunn's Loft?

                                            1. re: Stamford Talk

                                              Both Mortons and Bennett's is stm are DNR's on Jfood's list. Just horrible.

                                              He has not been to Dun's Loft yet.

                                              1. re: jfood

                                                Agreed. Capital Grill is better than both Morton's and Bennett's. Less expensive too. Any word on it's opening?

                                                1. re: Sam__Spade

                                                  According to Capital Grille's website, the Stamford location opens on February 25.

                                      2. re: cassius

                                        Went to Mitchell's last night for the first and last time. We arrived a half an hour early for our 7:45 reservation and sat at the bar (originally we sat at one of the bar tables but the waitress informed us those were only for patrons eating-she offered to seat us early at that table, but we said we preferred to wait for our reservation & sit in the dining room) Our pager went off right at 7:45 and we were escorted back to the bar-when we objected, they said the dining room was full, when we explained that we were offered a similar table 30 mins ago that we declined to sit in the dining room for our reservation-they managed to find us a table for two in the smaller dining area off the bar.

                                        Service was slow-our waiter was visibly flustered-but pleasant and knowledgable. Had a glass of wine, and ordered a second when our dinners arrived. The second glass did not come until after the table was cleared and we were handed a dessert menu. Our waiter apologized for this profusely, and we were understanding, but I really would have preferred my chardonnay with my meal, not as dessert.

                                        The food- we had the mussels app, which was very good-the mussels were large and meaty and the sauce was so tasty we had to get a second helping of bread to dip. My dinner was blah-crab cake was okay, shrimp were overdone and like rubber, potatoes salty, and the corn tasted like it was microwaved out of a bag. My husband had the cashew encrusted swordfish, which was much better, but the maple sauce was a little on the sweet side. We did not order dessert, but the 7 layer carrot cake sounded very tempting. My pre-dinner martini was excellent.

                                        I agree with the above-at 100 plus for dinner it is way too expensive for mediocre food and sub par service!

                                        A couple of weeks ago-went to Kona Grill-bad martini,-didn't chill my glass (a little pet peeve of mine) good calamari, salad was way overdressed, service was good, and prices reasonable.

                                        I think it is great to have some options for dining at the mall, but I wouldn't look to these new restaurants as dining destinations, for good food, stay with the locally owned favorites!

                                      3. Oh thanks for the info on the BBQ spot. I wondered if it was going to open. Guess I'll have to stick with Fireside.
                                        Here's my take on all of the new places. I'm just happy that there's somewhere to go in Stamford. I was tired of hitting the same old boring places. Bennigan's, Bradford's, Bobby V's, Black Bear. Not that those were the only places I went but it seemed like that was all there was.
                                        I like CPK mostly because of their thin crust pizzas and their salads. It is quite pricey. A grilled shrimp ceasar salad for $16. There was a lot of salad but whew.
                                        I could eat at PF Chang's everyday. I hardly find it expensive especially with the portions of food you get. Shrimp fried rice and crab wontons for $15. I ate on that for 2 days. As far as Chang's being snobby that's the biggest bunch of bull I've ever heard.
                                        I like the ambiance of Kona Grill. The fish tank is so amazing. I had the sushi and it was terrific. I do agree with another person who said that the dumplings were a little salty. I thought it was just me since I don't eat a lot of salt.
                                        I live near the Cosi on High Ridge and I don't even go to that one. It's okay but I prefer Panera Bread. That should open up in Stamford.
                                        Capital Grille is a good spot too. I've been to the one in Houston several times. I don't think the person who said Chang's is expensive will be visiting Capital Grille.
                                        I went to Telluride on New Year's Eve for dinner. I love that place but I got 3 scallops and 2 lobster ravioli for $34. Now THAT is a rip off. It was good but it was appetizer portion. I don't mind paying money for good food but I at least want to be full after I eat LOL.

                                        6 Replies
                                        1. re: sixnohit

                                          I work in Stamford and think it is great that these places have come. That mall needed something and yes there are some good places to eat in Stamford, but this gives a whole new area for people to eat lunch that work in the Tresser/Atlantic area. I personally like Kona and PF Changs. Now, all we need is a Cheesecake Factory and we will be set!

                                          1. re: bevoray

                                            ACK, it depresses me that the people working in the big office buildings choose chains over the wonderful restaurants around the corner. I DO understand the need for speed, but I hope that doesn't mean people only go to the mall chains. For all the business Stamford does, the local restaurants should benefit. Fortunately, Stamford does have a lot of foodies who keep these restaurants hopping.

                                            1. re: Stamford Talk

                                              Sure I take advantage of the other restaurants in Stamford on occasion. We have special occasion lunches at Mona Lisa. We order in frequently from Plateau and Myrna's and other places. In fact, we're trying out Fin today. But I can't always sit down for a fancy lunch and don't always want to order in. So, it's nice to have a place across the street where I can pick up a sandwich or salad or pizza -- Cosi or CPK. Is that so wrong?

                                              1. re: lisette

                                                Course not! Eating is practical, and you have to appreciate quick. Chains make quick more likely. I think it's pretty great that we got a new popular sushi place just as the mall chains are opening, though! Looks like Stamford diners are striking the balance b/w practical chains and other more unusual options like Plateau.

                                          2. re: sixnohit

                                            So glad you like Fireside! First time I've seen it mentioned on the board. I loved this place when I lived in the neighborhoodand if you have Michelle as your waitress or Marissa as your bartender, please tip them well! (they're my cousins :-))

                                            1. re: SweetPea914

                                              I like Fireside too. We've been to Sherwood's in Larchmont a lot and found Fireside through their website. Unfortunately, Sherwood's took away the vegetarian burrito that I liked (nothing authentic, but good for a guacamole fix since my husband won't eat Mexican). They better not take away the Toll House Cookie Pie, though.